Sunday, November 23, 2008

Sweet Peppery Carrots

As a child my mother always served carrots that she called pennies. They were cut like fat pennies, maybe 1/3 in in thickness. Then my mother cooked them to a soft stage. I ate them, but I didn't like them. They were carrots at their worst in my opinion. I've never for any reason cut a carrot to look like a penny, and for years I only served carrots raw or in soup.

But then one year I got the idea to cook julienned carrots and saute them in butter, brown sugar and pepper. It was a big hit with the family, and has been part of our thanksgiving tradition ever since. This recipe is not about certain quantities, but about the end result.

carrots, peeled and cut into about 2 - 3 inch julienned strips
brown sugar
coarse pepper

After the carrots are cut up I steam them with a steamer device or you can cook them in a small amount of lightly salted water in a saute pan. This is not about boiling the carrots, but about just enough cooking to get them to the au dent stage. Keep a close watch on the carrots. They do not want to come to the soft stage. If they're a little too au dent that's okay, because they will be cooked a bit more later. As soon as the carrots are cooked, run cold water over them to stop the cooking.

If I'm making these for Thanksgiving I do it the day before, get the carrots cooked and then put them in a bowl a cover them and put them in the refrigerator.  But refrigerating or not, it is important to get the carrots well drained, as you don't want to add water to the butter and sugar mix, it will be too thin to stick to the carrots.

When shortly before time to serve this dish, put a nice big nob of butter in a saute pan, add also a punch of coarse pepper and a bunch of brown sugar. This is all about how peppery and how sweet you want the carrots. Get it all melted and then toss in the carrots. At this point you can adjust things as you like. It's kind of like making candied sweet potatoes. You just play it by ear. Cook until the carrots are a nice degree of warmth to serve for dinner.

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